It’s hard to imagine a time before Noosa became a premier holiday destination. But in many ways this reputation for tourism and natural beauty is only relatively recent.

Long before Noosa became synonymous with surf, sand, sea and relaxation it was a gateway to gold mining, a thriving timber region, and so much more.

So, let’s turn back the pages of time and enjoy a slice of Noosa history…

Indigenous past

Centuries before Europeans discovered the potential of Noosa in the 1800s, the Gubbi Gubbi people were regular visitors to the area with a history in the region that dates back an estimated 30,000 years.

They also gave the township its name, with Noosa meaning “shade” or “shadows, possibly in reference to the area’s abundance of tall trees.

First Europeans

The first Europeans to really discover the region were believed to be escaped convicts from Brisbane and shipwreck survivors in the 1820s.

Stories abound of these white people being readily welcomed by the resident Aboriginals and even absorbed into their culture, but it wasn’t until 1863 and that the potential of the area as a township began to be fully explored.

Tewantin and timber

By the 1860s, the greater Noosa area had been identified as a promising site for timber felling and milling. That gave rise to mills at places like Lake Cootharaba and later Tewantin, and saw the Noosa River used for shipping.

By 1871, Tewantin had been surveyed as a settlement site and the township began to take shape. Four years later the town had its first hotel and telegraph access.

Gold in Gympie

The discovery of gold in Gympie saw much of the Noosa hinterland become established, with Tewantin one of the favoured ports for shipping.

Faster access to Gympie was also the reason the Noosa Road was first constructed in 1870, offering a less torturous route from Brisbane to the gold fields.

Meanwhile, townships like Pomona, Eumundi, and Cooroy began to spring up, further spurred on by the arrival of the railway between 1889 and 1891. In fact, the line between Cooroy and Yandina offered the final link between Brisbane and Cairns.

Noosa main beach

Although the area upriver of Noosa was taking shape rapidly, it wasn’t until 1882 that the first boarding house was constructed in Noosa proper. That building still stands today as Halse Lodge, and as Noosa Libraries explains, is one of the few sites in south east Queensland that have been operating continuously as a seaside guest house since the late 19th century.

A few other guesthouses were also built, while a banana plantation took shape on the hill. By 1927 Noosa had its own surf club and in the ‘30s shops were opening up on Hastings Street.

Then in 1943, a recreation centre was established for soldiers on the beachside of Hastings Street.

By 1950 sandmining threatened the future of Noosa Main Beach. The idea was subsequently thwarted by resident protests and Council. Meanwhile, the town continued on as a “sleepy village” until it steadily gained a reputation for stellar surfing.

“Noosa was largely unheard of at the start of the 1960s, but by the end of the decade it was a real mecca for surfers, and featured in movies and magazines, with a worldwide reputation,” retired journalist and former Noosa resident Stuart Scott told the Sunshine Coast Daily.

In the years since Noosa has established itself as an iconic tourism destination, renowned for its National Park, beautiful village feel, and commitment to conservation.

That’s in no small part due to the residents who have battled to maintain its beauty, limit the height of development and keep features like Noosa’s parks accessible to all.

About Noosa Quays

Noosa Quays is a premium Noosa accommodation provider, offering deluxe apartments on the Noosa Sound waterfront.

Located within easy reach of Hastings Street, Noosa River, the Noosa beaches and all the dining and activities on offer, it’s a destination that’s centrally located and easily reached.